How to Become an Effective Communicator -Practice Makes Perfect - Part 4

Active Listening is a process of several verbal and nonverbal procedures. It requires you to listen with all of your
senses. It's important that the ‘active listener’ demonstrates
that they're listening, as otherwise, the speaker might
conclude that what they're talking about is uninteresting.

You can demonstrate your interest through both verbal and
non-verbal communication such as maintaining eye
contact, smiling, and nodding your head.  Offering the other person this feedback will usually help them to feel more relaxed and they'll, therefore, communicate more easily, honestly, and openly.



Some nonverbal tools you can employ are

1. Smile: Combined with nods of the head, smiling can be very
powerful in affirming that you are listening to and
understanding what the other person is communicating.

2. Eye Contact: Usually encourages trust but depending on the reaction of the speaker, you may vary the degree of eye-contact

3. Posture: Squarely face the person as this will demonstrate that you are present and attentive, and will also help you to read the other person's nonverbal cues. Maintain an open posture. Avoid turning your body away or crossing your arms. Lean in towards the other person - if you are sitting, sit up tall and lean forward in your chair.

4. Mirroring Facial Expressions: This can help show that you're empathizing with the speaker.

5. Focus: Do not get distracted from what the other
person is saying by doing secondary activities. This not only reaps distrust but also breaks the communication flow for the speaker.

6. Reinforcement: Though helpful, use intermittent words like - yes, agreed, OK, to the minimum, Use them sparingly so that you don't distract the speaker from what they are trying to communicate.

7. Details: Information and ideas from previous conversations demonstrate that you were paying attention and will encourage the other person to continue to trust you in the communication.

8. Probing: Asking relevant questions will indicate to the
person speaking that you've been paying attention and
that you're genuinely interested in what they have to say.
Asking helpful questions can help you gather better
information and learn more about the other person.
Questioning is really important in building stronger
relationships and will help you to manage other people
more effectively.
A closed question will usually receive a single word or very short, factual answer. Whereas, Open questions will elicit longer answers. They usually start with 'what', 'why', 'how'. An open question asks the other person to share their opinion, thoughts, or feelings. 'Describe' and 'tell me' can also be used to begin an open
question.

In the next part, we will discuss REFLECTION.